On June 18, some of the top practitioners in the industry from Atlantic Media, Bonnier, Meredith, TechTarget and Toast Media Group led a hands-on Master Class on content engagement at the Yale Club in Manhattan, where they discussed the new best practices for content amplification and distribution.
The presenters discussed how they’ve been able to leverage SEO, social and personalization to grow their audiences and brands.
Kicking off the morning, Dean Praetorius, co-founder and COO of digital content agency Toast Media Group said in the SEO session, “If you’re not providing the right kind of content for what your audience is looking for, then you’re not going to get their click, regardless of your placement on the page,” which set the tone for the entire day. If you’re not optimizing your content to meet the wants and needs of your audience on each platform, you’re not going to grow clicks or engagement.
We collected 10 takeaways for those of you who weren’t there:
- Stop using social media for SEO growth: According to Praetorius, for years the correlation between social following and SEO was undeniable, but that’s not so much the case anymore. Social media may be more important than ever for publishers, but as an SEO strategy it’s non-existent.
- You don’t need to invest more into mobile optimization: Praetorius continued that on average, there is a 60/40 split between mobile and desktop searches and that’s stabilized, so once you’ve established a good baseline, you can stay there.
- Invest in voice and visual optimization: Two things are important when you’re looking at growing voice optimization, according to Praetorius: conversational keywords and structured data. For visuals, images are increasingly becoming the top results on Google, so publishers should use alt-tags, captions and filenames on their images to make sure they’re taking those spots.
- Know your searcher’s intent: Jessica Levenson, VP of search and engagement at TechTarget, said that when you’re working on your content strategy for SEO, you need to make sure your content matches the searcher’s intent. There are three types of searchers—the awareness seekers, the consideration phasers and the decision makers. As you go down the funnel from a more general search inquiry to a specific search inquiry, the search volume drops, but you want to make sure that your content strategy hits at each of these points. To do that, look at the questions each group is asking and make sure that your content provides an answer to that inquiry.
- Define your brand’s audience goals, KPIs and tone: According to Meredith’s senior content director of the Health & Parenting vertical, Amanda Wolfe, before investing in emerging platforms or jumping on social trends, ask yourself these questions. Who is my target audience and what social platforms are they currently engaging with? What are my key KPIs—traffic? Engagement? Brand-building? Where does my brand have permission to play? And what are my broader brand goals and how do those change across platforms?
- The four C’s of Social Impact: Popular Science‘s engagement editor Ryan Perry created the four C’s for achieving more impact with your social media:
- Calculate ROI: Is this post or campaign worth the time and effort?
- Content Without Borders: Create content and ideas that can easily live in more than one place. But if you have content that can only live on one platform, like a Youtube video, make sure to flex other channels for cross-platform support to promote that video everywhere.
- Collaborate With Colleagues: Include social media in the creative process. Having your social team in the room for content creation meetings allows you to plan concurrent social content that is specific for other platforms.
- Cue Engagement: Your social team is the only team that has unfettered access to your audience and your audience wants to engage with them. Take a break from links and use prompts or open up the channel for communication with your audience.
- Know who you should be targeting for personalization: The Atlantic’s director of audience development, Bryan Davis, said that individual personalization is unrealistic. 56% of publishers say that personalization is a high priority, but your real targets for personalization should be reader segments (the passerby, occasionals, frequenters and super fans). Then, look at which platforms each group operates on and which behaviors they’re exhibiting in those places.
- Optimize headlines for different platforms: Davis continued that an SEO headline should include more keywords than a headline on Facebook, which should be more colloquial. And on Twitter, the newsier the headline, the better.
- Language calling out personalization doesn’t always work: Saying “recommended” or other terms like this proved to have a 5% decrease in clicks for The Atlantic versus saying “more stories.”
- Apple News can be used as a way to promote both news and features: Money‘s senior audience engagement editor Matt Bemer recommended testing out what works for you in terms of push notifications. For Money, one push notification per day works for features, but news stories might lend themselves to two or three notifications per day. On average, Apple News sees a 1-3% open rate on alerts, but be sure that you don’t overuse “Breaking News” because readers are smart enough to determine what is actually newsworthy and overuse will decrease this open rate even further.